How doing your tax return can turn out to be fun!
So far we have rushed through Mexico, we have earned a stop partly for our sanity, and partly because we have the pressing issue of a tax return to complete. As per normal we have left everything until the last minute, and now need to secure some good wifi to submit the said tax return. Mexico is much cheaper than the USA so we decided to splash out and stay in a half decent hotel for a couple of nights, where we can knuckle down and wrestle with the nuances of the British tax system and hopefully see some of Mexico as well.
Guadalajara is Mexico's second biggest city and on our route, we book ourselves into a hotel in the Historic City Centre, with somewhere safe to leave Tigger and good wifi. The City Centre is bustling with everyone going about their daily business, it doesn't feel touristy and there are very few Gringos around. English isn't really spoken at all here so we need to start learning Spanish and fast! Si! Hola amigos. That's as far as it goes at the moment but I thought I would add my two pennyworths here. The last blog I was up to my ears in sub-zero wind, dust and oil, changing the engine, so I was a bit busy with that to contribute but as Jack Nicholson once said somewhere...."I'm back!" Mexico is indeed a wonderful colourful country but it is taking a while to settle back into a non-English speaking environment. We are so lazy as a nation.
It's great being in the City Centre, a short wander from the hotel and we are in the main Plaza which is dominated by the cities most beloved landmark, the Cathedral. Like many of the churches in Mexico it has its share of richly decorated altars, mucho gold and a hodgepodge of styles making it all seem rather over the top to our conservative British tastes, but really that is its charm. - Oh, I don't know. It wouldn't look out of place in Essex.
The Cathedral Plaza during the day
Just as impressive and busy at night
The Cathedral interior, with a little divine light shining through in the afternoon
Mexico is known for its muralists (well it might be the case for you arty farty types but I didn't know that. The only mural I had heard of was "Muriel's Wedding") and here in Guadalajara one of the big boys - Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) has some of his best work. A contemporary of Diego Rivera and a revolutionist, his murals all carry powerful political statements. They are BIG, verging on overwhelming, decorating public spaces including stairwells and ceilings. These murals can't help but be impressive even if you aren't an art lover. Interesting factoid, before he became a muralist, Orozco worked in a firework factory, he accidentally set off an explosion leading to the loss of his left hand.
Set in the pretty Palacio de Gobierno just off the main Plaza are the first and I think the most impressive of Orozco's murals.The guy brandishing the burning torch is Hildalgo (big revolutionary hero) he bears down on you from the stairwell virtually stopping you in your tracks. This is free to get in but they do like you to sign the visitors' book
His most famous and extensive murals are set in the Instituto Cultural-Hospicio Cabanas, It was founded as an orphanage by a Spanish Bishop, the day we went it was quiet and had a rather serene and tranquil feel about it. Not only does it house Orozco's famous Hombre de Fuego but there are around 57 murals in total but small courtyards hideaway exhibitions of modern art or quirky sculptures. This was 70peso entrance fee per person and then a cheeky extra 30peso if you want to take photographs - well worth it though. I loved this one but it does take a couple of second glances to "see" the man in the middle. You are looking up from underneath his left foot. OK, so I'm mildly interested.
Art isn't restricted to museums, in true Mexican tradition there is lots of street art around, and some very interesting seating!
The old town is small enough to stroll around and has plenty of historic old buildings to keep you happy for an afternoon. The market is also worth a visit, selling everything from cowboy hats and saddles to birds, sugar cane juice and musical instruments. ( I thought it was sugar cane but it tasted like sweet river water! Yuk. Not like other cane sugar drinks I have tasted. I swear that the iced sugar cane and durian we had in Vietnam was better, and that was touch and go vomit inducing!) We don't have room in Tigger for surplus items so we aren't tempted although I could see John eyeing up those cowboy hats! (and later, you, dear reader, will notice that I did get one - just not here)
Not much you can't buy at the market
The green sludge is Cane Sugar, teeth-jarringly sweet, would be better with a shot of vodka in my opinion!
I think the sign hanging up over the stall is listing the horrible side effects of consuming this beverage. Look! My beard is turning grey already!
We did have a fun couple of days in Guadalajara and we even got the tax returns done. it was great staying in the middle of the old town as everything was very walkable, and we got to see everything we wanted to. We stayed at the NH Hotel Central the downside was they didn't have a car park but there was a private car park close by for 150peso per day, which we used for peace of mind. All in all a good and productive trip, now off to Mexico City to meet our friends from the UK